CURATING natural and ethical products has always been the ethos of Enniskillen businesswoman, Shauna Gallagher, and her business, The Natural Beauty Pot, is very much a home-grown success story.

Hot off the heels of an exciting move to Townhall Street, Enniskillen in November of last year, the warm and inviting outlet is a one-stop-shop for an ever-growing range of organic skincare, bath salts, giftsets, and more.  

Those in the market for ethically-produced and sourced products have come to the right place; and equally, those seeking the ideal card or gift for a special occasion - say, Mother's Day - need look no further. 

Looking at the business today, it's impressive that it all started with just a single sale more than 15 years ago; and it's more impressive to consider that this sale was a solution to a common problem that many, including Mrs. Gallagher, face. 

Having suffered skin sensitivities all her life, when Mrs. Gallagher had a bad experience with so-called 'Green products' as a teenager,  she decided to create her own. 

Her back-to-basics formula featured only a handful of ingredients, and it worked well for her needs; perhaps too well, in fact, as before long she was being asked by others to make it for them!

"I suppose it sort of happened by accident," Mrs. Gallagher recounted.

"I have always struggled with sensitive skin, and when I started making my own skincare for personal use, people began to remark about how good my skin looked. 

"This inevitably led to people asking me if I could make it for them. This set the wheels moving and I made my first sale at age 19 in 2009. I was only a young thing!"

This sale was indeed the seed that saw Mrs Gallagher taking those first tentative steps toward growing her idea into a viable business. 

"I am a rule follower and knew that when making skincare, people could have allergic reactions despite simple ingredients," she said.

"Therefore, I knew it was important to get insurance to ensure everything was above board and done right, and this incurred a cost. 

"At this stage it made sense to start the business to recoup some of those costs."

Mrs. Gallagher described the initial growth of The Natural Beauty Pot as a "slow burner", but slowly but surely she found herself in a position to open a shop at the Buttermarket, Enniskillen in July, 2014.

"Opening the shop was a turning point and from then it's developed and changed a great deal," Mrs. Gallagher said.

"It was a learning curve, and it takes a while to understand how retail works. It's trial and error and there's no set plan for success."

As her business continued to grow,  Mrs. Gallagher was ever-keen to promote her website as a means of selling, and this proved vital when the pandemic hit in March, 2020. 

"The pandemic turned out to be a very busy time for me", she explained.

"Having an existing website was a major bonus, and while many small businesses were scrambling to get a website up and running, we were good to go."

Recounting those unpredictable days of the pandemic, Mrs. Gallagher said: "I remember that I had made 300 sachets of bath salt for an event that was called off at the last minute due to lockdown.

"I had no clue what I was going to do with them, as well as other supplies of lip balms and wax melts. 

"This was until I was contacted out of the blue by someone who wanted to send a gift to someone.

"This led to the creation of self-care packages, which included bath salt, lip balm, wax melts, chocolates and herbal tea.

"It was a way for people to send their support to each other during the pandemic.

"These packages did really well and I made hundreds of them. I spent every day putting them together while everything was locked down.

"This was a good boost in revenue and gave us the funds to stock more products. In many ways, the pandemic was a turning point."

Following this unexpected boon from Covid-19, Mrs. Gallagher began to look further into the gifting market, and a pop-up stall at Erneside in Christmas, 2021, demonstrated the need for a more central location in town.

Mrs. Gallagher explained: "For the last two Christmases, we have ran a pop-up at Erneside, and seeing the revenue and footfall, we knew that we needed to move to a central part of town to get more traffic.

"However, as it was clear renting at Erneside wasn't feasible, we kept on the lookout for the perfect town centre location. 

"This came in the form of Townhall Street in November of last year. It was a big plunge, but having a central location has been very beneficial for the business as a whole."

Townhall Street has proven to be a popular hub for Mrs. Gallagher's business, and alongside her mum, Alice, and staff member, Emma, she is busy preparing for the next big event - Mother's Day. 

Mrs. Gallagher is particularly excited about her unique range of gift cards, along with a range of gifts for even the most discerning of mums.

And looking further ahead to the future, Mrs. Gallagher is confident that Townhall Street will remain the home of The Natural Beauty Pot for many years to come. 

"We are happy with the way things are at the moment, but we always have to be mindful that retail is always changing," she said. 

"We are working on some things for Christmas, 2024, and it's always a case of looking at what's went well and how that can be built upon.

"Moving to the high street has always been a major goal of mine, and now this has been achieved I can focus more on the website end of things, growing the team and adding to product offerings."

Indeed, the world of self-employment isn't the path for everyone, but for Mrs. Gallagher, it has proven the right fit for her. 

She admits that some days are tougher than others - but the freedom of being her own boss, and being able to meet customers' needs to her exacting standards, make it all worthwhile. 

"It's really a rollercoaster, with great highs and great lows," she reflected. "Without a doubt, you have to have a can-do attitude.

"Over time, you develop the skills to cope with the unpredictability and to deal with the problems that arise.

"There's nothing as satisfying as having someone tell you that they loved the products and that they have helped them with a skin complaint.

"Feedback like this makes it all worthwhile," she added.